KPMG signals greater recognition for educators in post COVID-19 landscape
In a series that seeks to outline the possible ways in which employment and the economy will be altered as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, professional services firm KPMG has highlighted the role of educators in society, speculating that both professional esteem and rate of pay may be affected as the world comes to view “frontline heroes” differently.
With COVID-19 having exposed weaknesses across a number of sectors, industries and systems of government, as well as in the economy, KPMG undertook an exploration of how society may “rise to the challenge” of reshaping those areas in a post COVID world.
Top people over top profits
In economic terms, which may be of interest to those in the ECEC sector who operate in a publicly listed context, KPMG predicts that, with digital transformation at the top of business agendas and challenging economic conditions, companies will need to adopt a position regarding their workforce and other stakeholders.
There will be a differentiation in approaches – some organisations will move to create an extremely lean workforce through digitisation, while others will aim to minimise impact on employees. Companies who prioritise employee needs over shareholder needs could become talent destinations,” a spokesperson said.
Given the prevailing challenges of ECEC workforce attraction and retention, particularly in the early childhood teacher space, the final point about being a “talent destination” is likely to be a core focus of ECEC.
The top prediction made by the firm is that economic conditions will spur a greater focus on workforce automation, continuing a trend which has already begun. Workforce automation refers to processes, procedures and tasks which have previously been done “by hand” now being automated, and done using technology.
KPMG believes that the “automation imperative” will grow as a survival response through a challenging economic period, and that post-coronavirus, this move towards automation will accelerate further.
Focus on freelance
A post COVID-19 employment market will likely be more flexible, KPMG said, noting that permanent positions are likely to decline, and employee supply will come from organisations needing to add new skill sets and capacity while retaining flexibility to combat volatile conditions.
Coupled with this, as employees need to further their sources of income, having a variety of marketable skill sets will become more important.
In an ECEC context, this may mean greater demand for casual work as educators look to spread their earnings capability across sector’s.
In addition, and to combat this trend, educators may need to consider what else they may be able to do to enhance their offering as a prospective employee, such as further study, learning adjacent skills, or considering how they might supplement their income through other work.
Reskilling will be a priority
As more and more tasks become automated, what KPMG termed a “reskilling crisis” will likely be accelerated.
Basic and repeatable tasks, such as signing in and out each day, are now often automated through tools such as biometric scanners, freeing up administrative time.
The rapid and simultaneous nature of digital transformation, however, means that large portions of the workforce (especially low-skilled workers) will need to be re-trained, although this particular observation is unlikely to impact the ECEC sector.
At the conclusion of “our new reality” KPMG asks a series of questions, designed to provoke progress on the hypothetical scenarios which may result from its predictions.
Of most interest to the ECEC sector is the question “will frontline workers be our new heroes?”
Here KPMG praises the work done by educators, nurses and other professionals during the peak of the pandemic, saying they have been “put in the spotlight” for their contribution in this crisis. Two questions relating to ECEC are asked:
- Will they be financially rewarded for the part they play and continue to play post-crisis?
- Will they inspire the new generation towards these roles?
Other questions posed by KPMG include:
- Who will design and lead the re-training effort?
The unprecedented scale of re-training needed will require leadership, collaboration and new funding structures.
- What will the roles of organisations, government, education providers and the individual be?
- Who will ensure we don’t leave people behind?
- Is it time for a Universal Basic Income (UBI)?
To access the KPMG series, please see here.
*Please note this article has been amended post initial publication.